Libya: Providing urgent medical care in Sirte

On 3 October, after ten days of attempts, MSF managed to deliver medicines and medical supplies to Sirte, Libya. The city is at the heart of the current fighting, where, according to doctors, the healthcare situation is continuing to deteriorate.

“They say that their hospital is overrun with wounded and they aren’t always able to respond to other emergencies, such as gynaecological or paediatric problems, or treat people suffering from chronic conditions,” said Dr Mégo Terzian, emergency response coordinator for MSF.  “Moreover, they have to deal with cuts in power and water, and are lacking urgent medical supplies. They need anaesthetics, antibiotics, analgesics and blood for transfusions.”

Because of the fighting, the MSF team based in Misrata could initially deliver medicines only to a small town 10 km from Sirte. However, MSF has since been able to send medicines and medical supplies, notably an oxygen concentrator and wound dressing materials, to Sirte itself.

Elsewhere, emergency treatment was provided at medical health posts close to the front lines of Sirte and the city Beni Walid, and a medical health centre was set up in an old holiday home, 50 km from Sirte. MSF is providing the centre with logistical support, medicines and medical supplies, and has organised first-aid training. Once the injured are stabilised, they are taken by ambulance or helicopter to Misrata or Tripoli, where the nearest hospitals with surgical capacity are located.

In the Kasr Ahmed hospital in Misrata, an MSF surgical team is taking care of urgent cases and the wounded. Our staff are also caring for prisoners of war who are being detained in local prisons, but have been moved to this hospital for surgical operations.

Another consequence of the fighting that is taking place on both sides of Misrata, is that civilians are fleeing the stronghold cities of the old regime, such as Sirte and Beni Walid.  Some are heading to Tripoli and others are seeking refuge around Misrata, or else joining camps for internally displaced people in Kaddayia, Al Hicha and Wachka. MSF is currently monitoring the situation in all of the camps, to ensure medical access for the displaced people.

In Al Hicha camp, MSF is supporting the Libyan doctors by providing medicines for 2000 people.

Other areas of MSF activity in Libya

MSF has teams in hospitals in Yefren and Zintan in the west of Libya, where they are providing medical supplies and drugs. MSF is also providing mental health support to people affected by the fighting.

In Misrata, MSF is providing medical care, including post-operative care, in many prisons in the town and offering mental health support to detainees, mostly soldiers who have been taken prisoner.  In Misrata, MSF psychologists are supervising and training Libyan psychologists, and holding consultations.

In general, medical consultations, mental healthcare and the distribution of essential goods make up the various kinds of aid being offered to migrants sheltering in sites in Tripoli and around.